Bianca: Growing up, most of our exposure to food was typically 80% Italian. I cannot recall a single meal without the obligatory loaf of bread, both Nonno’s homemade wine, pasta on Sunday nights with the family. Sometimes Nonno would even let us pick our favourite pasta to cook that night – mine was always penne or spaghetti.
As we got older we got more experimental with our food, mum would regularly make curries, stir-fry’s and Roasts and when we would eat out we’d try to avoid Italian. This is especially the case the last 10 years or so. Why pay for something that is most likely never going to be as good as Nonna or Nonno’s.
Nevertheless, sometimes you just feel a little nostalgic and want some of those familiar tastes and smells and despite my badgering growing up, no-one has ever bought me my own pizza oven. Which is why we made the trek out to South Wentworthville late one Friday night.
‘Pizzeria Italiana’ is just a few minutes’ drive off the Cumberland highway exit on the M4, a typical old school pizzeria, one you used to be able to find in many pizzeria’s along the Norton Street strip back in Leichhardt’s hey days.
We all decided to start with a ‘Bruschetta Pizza’ (small) – Fresh chopped tomatoes, onion and basil. $12.00. Great punchy flavours, perfectly seasoned. Sometimes a bruschetta can be hit and miss depending on the quality of tomatoes but these were beautiful. The only letdown was in the actual base, the drippings from the tomato mixture made the base quite soft and soggy.
We then shared a serving of ‘Rice Croquets’ (4 in a serving) $16.00. While these were tasty, we felt they could have benefited from an accompanying sauce, a tomato based dipping sauce would have went nicely.
For myself, now I can honestly say it’s been more than four years since I have ordered a pizza eating out but sometimes you just get that hankering. I also went for a half and half, one half ‘Pepperoni’ – mozzarella, tomato, pepperoni, capsicum and olives. $15 for a large. The other half ‘Santa Maria’ – mozzarella, tomato, chilli paste, fresh chilli, hot salami, olives, anchovies. $15. I don’t mind some spice but some may balk at the heat factor, just getting a whiff and taking a glance it looks fiery. Besides mum, the others found it a little too hot. I’ve always gravitated towards pepperoni and I enjoyed this rendition. I did find an olive pip on the pizza which can be dangerous for those that tend to just delve right in.
Alex always a fan of schnitty decided to get the ‘Chicken Schniztel’ with salad. $19.90. We’re pretty adamant that our mum makes some of the best schnitz around, so our standards are pretty high. But Alex was pretty impressed with his meal.
Dad being a big lover of seafood went with a half and half pizza. One half ‘Marinara’ – mozzarella, tomato, prawns, clams and calamari. $15 for a large. The other half being ‘Aussie’ – mozzarella, tomato, bacon, egg and onion. $15. Dad enjoyed his pizza hybrid, always being a sucker for egg on a pizza, harkening back to his days working in my Nonno’s Norton street pizzeria back in the day.
Our older brother John went with a combo meal, opting for ‘Fettuccine Boscaiola’ and ‘Chicken Schnitzel’ $24.90. Snagging a bite, the fettuccine was perfectly cooked al dente and the flavours were typical of a traditional boscaiola.
Mum decided to go for a special of the day, my memory is a little hazy here but it was a white fish with pesto, she then committed the cardinal sin and smothered it in parmesan.
We were all pretty stuffed at this point but owners Lenny and Maria insisted we order dessert. How could we argue? We decided on the traditional ‘Tiramisu’ $9.90. Always a weakness in our family, this one did not disappoint, we loved the addition of the chocolate cigar, giving it some differing texture. It disappeared fairly quickly, John seemed to have snaffled this one up and very quietly polished it off.
We also shared the ‘Mixed Berry Panna Cotta’, two ‘Cannoli’ $3.50each and ‘Ricotta filled turnovers’. We were struggling at this point but I made it a point to try each, the Panna cotta was silky and moreish, it was slightly on the wobbly wobbly side, as if it didn’t have enough gelatine but this is nit-picking. I liked the idea of the dual cannoli meaning you get the best of both worlds – chocolate and vanilla in one. Being a chocolate gal, I have to say I was surprised I kept going back for the vanilla side. Very dangerous! Lastly the ricotta ‘turnovers’, these reminded me very much of a cinnamon doughnut and doughnuts are virtually my Achilles heel. Unfortunately, Maria told us, they will no longer offer these.
All in all a fairly rustic and unassuming, casual place. Great for a night out with the family, with no airs just good pizza and smashing desserts.
Photos by Alex